African Voices

‘Africa is the last frontier for metal’: Botswana’s metal heads still rocking

Story highlights

Botswana has a vibrant heavy metal scene

CNN wrote about the scene in 2012 - now find out what happened next

Band "Skinflint" recently toured Sweden and are recording their fifth album

"The last frontier of rock and metal music is African," says photographer Frank Marshall

CNN  — 

Botswana may not be the first country you’d associate with head banging and shredding guitar solos, but in recent years its heavy metal scene has been making a name for itself.

Back in June 2012, CNN’s Inside Africa traveled to the southern African country of Botswana to meet up with some of the country’s metal heads, and found the bands’ powerful riffs were matched by the fans’ passion – and a penchant for the old-school metal getup of leather, studs and cowboy hats.

“Metal is a music about power, independence and freedom,” said Giuseppe Sbrana, singer of local band Skinflint. “That’s what I believe in – fighting for what you believe in no matter the consequences. Standing up for what you believe in and showing individuality.”

South African photographer Frank Marshall captured Botswana’s rockers in all their Hell’s Angels-style glory as part of his “Renegades” series of portraits.

“Metal was seeded here [in Botswana] by a classic rock band that started in the early 70s. Since then, it’s evolved and grown,” he said.

“In the last 10 to 20 years, it’s come to be visually composed of what it looks like now – the guys dressed in leather. It started off with classic rock and later on more extreme forms of metal were introduced.”

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Nearly two years after that first meeting, CNN caught up with Marshall to find out how the country’s fledgling metal scene is developing.

“The difference is quite extreme,” said Marshall. “Before then it was largely unknown and now there seems to be a lot of interest. If you look over the internet people have a lot of interest in this new form.

“The last frontier of rock and metal music is African now, is what people are saying, so they are very interested in seeing this scene grow from its, sort of, infancy and seeing where it could go.”

And Marshall thinks African bands could one day bang heads with the biggest international names in stadium rock.

“I think it’s just going to take hold and grow rapidly,” he said. “Africa will start producing very notable international rock bands and metal bands as well and probably in 10 years’ time it won’t be unusual to see bands from Africa headlining big stages and sharing stages with bands like Metallica. It’s not beyond reason – I’d like to see that happen.”

Skinflint’s Sbrana also believes that dream could be realized. “Considering the feedback and support we have received from abroad, I would say that it is a strong possibility,” he said. “In fact, Africa already has metal bands which have toured Europe, and if given the chance, we will deliver.”

Since Inside Africa met them in 2012, Skinflint have gone on to tour Southern Africa and Kenya – even headlining two concerts in Sweden last year. They are now working on their fifth studio album.

Sbrana says the local metal movement has gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years.

“There has been a strong interest in the African metal scene,” he says. “It has grown both locally and internationally. As for the music, I would say that the band has matured and is further expanding on the African metal genre by incorporating more elements from African culture into our music.”

For those Africans about to rock, we salute you.

For more on Botswana’s metal heads, read the original story here.